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Do you know where your digital files sleep at night? In a pair of recent, hotly debated rulings, the court made an important distinction regarding when files stored in the cloud can be reached via a search warrant, and when the cloud cannot be reached by the US justice system.

The primary distinction lies in how and where a cloud storage service provider maintains the files in the cloud. Basically, if the files are permanently stored in one physical location that is outside the jurisdiction of the US courts, then the files will be safe from a US search warrant. However, if the service provider moves the stored data and files from location to location, then even if the files or data are not presently located in the US, a search warrant may compel the files to be moved onto a server located in the US to be included in the warrant.

While sitting behind a computer screen is widely regarded as much safer than wandering the streets at night asking people for their opinions in 140 characters or less, computer crimes are becoming increasingly common. Additionally, in recent years, social media sites have even become hotbeds for crime, and police are getting wise to it.

Below you'll find five common crimes being committed on, or as a result of, social media.

This week a moderator for a major darkweb child pornography internet repository was sentenced to 20 years in prison, as well as lifetime monitoring upon release, for his involvement with the site, which is nothing less than shocking. David L. Browning, the convicted moderator, was required to delete anything from the site, Playpen, that did not relate to child pornography, including images, videos, and even discussions.

Browning is not the first Playpen-related conviction. A site administrator, Michael Fluckiger, was sentenced to 20 years just a few weeks ago, and another administrator, Steven Chase, is currently awaiting sentencing. In addition to these 3, there were 48 other individuals prosecuted as a result of their involvement with Playpen.

5 Most Common Cybercrimes

Whether it's the ability to hop online under an avatar or fake name or an imagined distinction between the internet and IRL, quite a few folks are surprised when their online crimes come with offline consequences. Cybercrime continues to evolve and grow, and as technology advances the opportunities for cybercriminals to strike will only increase.

So what are the most common internet crimes right now, and where is internet crime headed in the future?

There are few things worse than hate for a person to expend their energy and mental wherewithal on. One of those few things is live streaming you and your friends torturing an innocent person while yelling politically and racially charged statements. In what should be held out as an example of just sheer brazen stupidity, four 18-year-old teens have been arrested as a result of a Facebook Live video they posted of themselves torturing another teen.

While it is unclear what the motivation for the torture was, what is clear is that the victim was subjected to an awfully scary situation, was physically restrained, verbally and physically assaulted numerous times, and threatened with death, all while being video recorded.

Because of the young age of the perpetrators, despite the racial and political statements, law enforcement has been hesitant to actually call this a hate crime rather than just kids making stupid mistakes and saying things to get attention. Sadly, at one point during the video, the woman making the video asks why no one is watching her live stream.

Last week, the Department of Justice announced that an international ransomware and hacking operation, which hit a Pennsylvania county's district attorney's office for a $1,400 ransom, had been shut down. The bust happened as a result of a coordinated effort between 40 nations as the cybercrime operation had a worldwide impact. The DOJ announced that arrests were made in four separate countries and dozens of servers that hosted the malicious programs were shut down.

The Pennsylvania county district attorney's office was infected because a single employee clicked on a link in a phishing email that the employee believed to be from another legitimate government agency. The one click led to the office's files being locked until a bitcoin ransom was paid. The Pennsylvania prosecutors traced their hack back to Australia. Other victims of these attacks have had their computers taken over, and have had sensitive banking data stolen, leading to theft through illegal wire fraud.

Although the media portrays hackers as malicious computer programmers, it doesn't actually take as much know-how as one might expect to violate computer hacking laws. For starters, merely accessing another person's e-mail or social media accounts without authorization violates a decades-old federal law, and can also violate state and local criminal laws.

However, not all hacking is malicious or illegal. There are many "hackers" that are actually working to improve software, improve security, and generally do good things. What will make hacking a computer or device a crime depends largely on the type of hacking and the ownership of the device or computer.

As virtual reality technology advances, like with every new technology, the law frequently needs time to play catch-up. We have already seen the law extend to cover credible criminal threats made online. However, when it comes to virtual reality (VR), lawmakers may be teetering upon an uncertain slippery slope. 

Recently, a virtual reality user reported having her VR character (avatar) repeatedly molested by another VR user inside the same VR world. Despite the lack of actual physical contact, the violated user explained that she felt many of the same emotions as she did when she was groped in real life, and to make matters worse, there was nothing she could do to stop the virtual attack, short of signing off from the game. In response to the VR sexual assault, the game-makers created a user command that allows a user to create a personal bubble that removes all other live players nearby.

Is Identity Theft a Felony?

Like many other crimes, identity theft is a wobbler. Depending on the state and the severity of the crime, identity theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes, it's not even called identity theft, but rather impersonation, or fraud. Generally, an identity thief will gain access to a person's bank or credit card information, or enough personal information to open a new credit card, and use the credit to make purchases or cash withdrawals or cash transfers.

Typically, when an identity thief uses their illicitly gained information to steal money, or make purchases, in the absence of specific identity theft laws, the crime will usually be treated like any other theft. Theft crimes tend to wobble between misdemeanor and felony charges depending on the circumstances and value of the stolen or illegally purchased items. Additionally, restitution is usually part of the punishment, regardless of whether it is charged as a felony or misdemeanor.